Friday, April 20, 2007

"...a fry cook on Venus"

If you know this famous movie line from what I consider to be the high point in filmmaker John Hughes' 80's "teen" period, then you know a little bit about what can occasionally be considered high art in the movie theater in my mind.

One of the things I always thought I would enjoy doing - not as a career but as a hobby - was being a short order fry cook.

I can trace this blue-collar service oriented trade manifesto to two distinct periods and places of my past.

First, as a pre-teen I spent countless fall, winter, and spring weekends with my Pops and Step-Mom at the Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort in California's Sierra Nevada Mountains.

The skiing was top notch, the interaction with fellow skiers of varying degrees of maturity was educational and my time spent on the slopes gave me a better understanding of the importance of being able to tolerate me, myself and I.

There was a young Asian fellow named Denny, who was the short order cook in the lodge cafeteria where we ate breakfast. He was handsome, jovial, and seemingly enjoyed his work with the same amount of carefree vigor that he displayed on the slopes during his afternoon "off-time." He was a ski-bum in the truest sense - working to live, living to ski, and skiing for the love of it.

Then - and maybe even a little bit now - I wanted to be Denny.

Second, during my undergraduate years, I spent more hours than I should have, sitting at the counter in a small canteen, talking and listening to a large Black man in a very small white apron.

His name tag stated in crooked black dymo-labeled lettering that his name was Robert, but I called him what he asked me to call him after he found my familiar face staring back at him for several late morning breakfast feeds in a row...Junior.

Junior and I became friendly acquaintances in the 4 years I took classes at the state university just east of Downtown LA. Never getting too personal or letting go with too much private information, our conversational shorthand centered around what I coined as "fry cooking techniques, theories and practices." He got a good chuckle every time I would use that phrase.

To this day I still practice one of Junior's cardinal rules for making an A+ omelette - scrape the griddle surface clean before laying on that egg.

So, you can see why, when I drove by and saw that Jobe's Drive-In on Route 66 in El Reno, OK, was for sale, the memories of Denny and Junior (and Ferris) flooded my mind with images of lording over my own griddle, making sweet onion fried burgers to be served via roller skating car hops to waiting patrons in convertibles and pick-up trucks.

It ain't Venus, but a fry cook with little to no experience could do little better.

2 comments:

Patience said...

You Go!! Live your dream!!!!

Emily said...

Too bad you didn't get to see Jobe's before they ruined the sign. It used to be all neon. I think Ron has a T-shirt somewhere with a picture of the original sign on it.